He wasn’t dead, nor was he partying. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba and one of China’s biggest celebrities, reappeared today after nearly three months missing. The tycoon had stayed away from the spotlight after the authorities of the Asian giant began a campaign against him and his companies, which uncovered rumors regarding his legal situation.
Ma, disgraced in the eyes of the Party, has participated this Wednesday in an awards ceremony for rural teachers that bears his name. It has done it, however, through the screen. During the video of his speech shared with the media, he explained that due to the pandemic this edition could not be held in person in the southern city of Sanya, as is customary. The images, offered by the newspaper Tianmu News, also shows him inspecting a school near Hangzhou, the city where Alibaba is headquartered.
The organization has detailed that it intervened telematically in the event together with the 100 winners. All of them have received a check for 100,000 yuan (12,750 euros) to improve the conditions of their schools. During the gala, Ma recognized the efforts of the 2.9 million rural teachers spread throughout the Chinese territory, and stressed that the reason for these awards is none other than “to thank and offer our respects to the teachers” .
Before he was a billionaire, Ma began his career teaching, in his English class, and during his years at the helm of Alibaba he asked employees to address him not by the formula “laoban“,” Boss “, but as”laoshi“, “teacher”. Stock markets have welcomed his comeback: Alibaba shares closed the day up 8.52% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Jack Ma had been seen in public for the first time at the end of October, when during a forum he criticized the country’s legislation on financial matters and its “pawn shop” mentality, words that the authorities received as a challenge and that triggered the blocking the IPO of the digital financial services company Ant Group, of which the magnate is the largest shareholder. The government canceled the operation, destined to be the largest initial public offering in history, when there were just 48 hours to go before the appointed date.
Since then, the corrections have been constant and soon extended to the headquarters. In December, the State Administration for Market Regulation announced the opening of an investigation against Alibaba, accused of monopolistic practices. As a result of its clash with the authorities, the technology giant has lost almost a third of its stock price since the end of October, equivalent to the evaporation of 340,000 million dollars (280,000 million euros).
What happened has also affected the businessman. In addition to legal concerns, whoever was the richest man in China has seen how in recent months his wealth has decreased from 51,000 million euros to 40,000, according to data from Bloomberg. In his speech today, however, he tried to offer an optimistic message. Ma said goodbye by calling the teachers to the next edition of the award. “When the pandemic is over, we will surely find the opportunity to continue our journey in Sanya. We will meet again when that day comes. “